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Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 21, 2015

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week’s tasting included a couple of tasty Pinot Noirs from minimalist producer Big Table Farm in Oregon. Their single vineyard bottling from the Pelos Sandberg vineyard is especially worthy of attention for its distinctive aromatics and unique personality.

I’m always telling myself I don’t drink enough Washington State red wine, especially after I encounter bottles like those I dug out this week from Avennia and Passing Time. Passing Time is the cleverly named project of former NFL quarterbacks Dan Marino and Damon Huard.

Finally, 2013 was an interesting vintage in Germany, it seems, and one in which some of the wines returned to the zippy freshness of 2010 that I love so much (read: lots of acidity). The bottle of Leitz that arrived recently is an example of what acid lovers like me might expect from better producers this year, and it’s quite exciting. If you like Riesling, you’ll love this one.

All this and more below. Enjoy!

2013 Truchard Roussanne, Carneros, Napa, California
Light greenish gold in color, this wine smells of honey and poached pears. In the mouth, quince and poached pear mix with cold cream and a hint of chrysanthemum tea. Decent but lacking the snappy acidity that would make it more dynamic and refreshing. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $24 click to buy.

2013 Leitz “Berg Roseneck” Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau, Germany
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle and Asian pear. In the mouth, wet chalkboard and lime zest mix with Asian pear and honeysuckle. Great acidity. Moderately sweet with gorgeous minerality and length. Refreshing and delicious. 8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $44 click to buy.

2013 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium ruby in the glass with just a hint of purple still in it, this wine smells of marijuana resin, cranberries and cherries. In the mouth wonderfully plush flavors of cherry and raspberry fruit are dusted with very light tannins and shot through with a bright streak of acidity. What this wine lacks in complexity it makes up for in verve. Quite nice. 12.9% alcohol. Closed with screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $27 click to buy.

2013 Big Table Farm Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Pale ruby in color, this wine smells of crushed herbs and dried flowers, suggesting whole cluster fermentation. In the mouth, wonderfully delicate flavors of raspberry and raspberry leaf mix with crushed green herbs and a faint earthy note. Silky and plush, with perhaps less acidity than I would like, but in this case this adds to the impression of delicacy. Very pretty. Barely perceptible tannins. 12.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $43 click to buy.

2013 Big Table Farm “Pelos Sandberg Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of pungent cedar and crushed herbs with a hint of lavender. In the mouth very silky flavors of raspberry, lavender, cedar and crushed dried and fresh herbs have an incredible aromatic presence. Very nicely balanced acidity makes for a wonderfully delicious package. The faintest of tannins linger in the finish with scents of dried flowers. 12.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $50 click to buy.

2012 Truchard Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry and raspberry jam. In the mouth, cherry and raspberry fruit has a nice bright sweetness to it and excellent acidity keeps that purity quite juicy through a long finish. Very little tannin to speak of. Charming. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30 click to buy.

2012 Avennia “Gravura” Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black cherry and plum. In the mouth, flavors of black cherry, plum, tobacco and a hint of espresso mix under a blanket of suede-like tannins. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright, and a darker earth and bitter chocolate note enters the long finish. A blend of 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc. 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35 click to buy.

2012 Avennia “Sestina” Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of tobacco and cherry cola. In the mouth, cherry cola and black cherry fruit flavors have a wonderful juicy brightness to them and a faint, taut tannic musculature that is quite appealing. Excellent acidity keeps the flavors bright and fresh across the palate and through a long finish that is scented with chocolate covered cherries. A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60 click to buy.

2012 Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich, ripe black cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, black cherry and tobacco flavors also have a hint of crushed green herbs to them that is quite nice and adds complexity and gravitas to what might otherwise be a very plush gob of fruit. Good acidity and velvety tannins round out the wine, but a tiny bit of alcoholic heat creeps into the finish. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $75 click to buy.